Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Shawwal 20, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

A dark alley...

A window into contemporary Omani literature

The following are translations of poems from Zahir al Ghafri’s collection: Whenever an Angel Appeared in the Fort (Beirut: 2008)


A Dark Alley


No one in the dark alley but you


The mouth’s flower in the dark


You’re the woman of the last breaths


And empty archways.


Hands in water, knees in soil


Each signal from you is a high threshold to exile.


The sea before your door is the refuge for passers-by


The sea is white in your blue palm


And a mark of my love-stricken heart.


Rebellious memory stirred the autumn leaves


Under the door


You went to pick them up


I was the cold light wind.


Inspiration comes with no compass


Under the riverbank,


You’re the selfsame woman


In the street or the dark alley


Before others.


Did I say “gloom”?


Did you laugh at the spring that let us down?


Was winter what you meant?


This misunderstanding is a bow


Hanging in ice


Perhaps there should be... no end.


Checkmate


Should we have talked


While heavy clouds were hanging over our heads?


Was our talk like the throw of white dice


And did our spring happiness gush out


Like an archipelago of light?


Silence sails, on a light land, to Beirut


My life returns to the springhead


Like the mast of a prophetess


Carrying treasures and gifts.


These walls have never deserted me


Nor has this beauty that glitters


Over your black eyelid


Like lightning.


You’re, in truth, the enemy’s barking.


O enemy


My last glance was her resort that night,


Thus love sails with knee’s water


With the power of an angel on a bed


Between a mirror, a well and a blue closet.


Between the alleys barks the one that can’t


Be named.


Between the clouds as I fall asleep


There slip the white dice, the prophetess’ mast


The knee water, the mirror, the well and the blue closet


Into the fountain of happiness.


“Checkmate”


Said the sage.


Not Today, Not Tomorrow


Not today, not tomorrow


Not like this


Never like this.


You should wait till towers of silence rise from your bowels


Like someone hearing the posts


Collide with the howling of a wolf at night.


To be a man and woman at once


Near the riverbanks


The moment is the same: a skilled hunter


Like Hamlet’s madness at its height


Unarmed but with words


But with keys


Keys that are just a few dreams in your cold palm.


The grand miracle seeks that cloud of despair


As it beats on a horizon as a flag of sins.


Go alone if you wish


To reach the fort


But not today, not tomorrow.


You should also wait for savages who will come


You may find some solution


And write that verse.


Searching for a Dream


Not now...


This window won’t open but a small injury.


You dream like someone


Begging for sleep in the forest.


There


With a single stone throw


The dead wake up on the riverbank.


You walk on the edge of the world


To get to the valleys you lost.


On your way stones glisten


Like a golden memory.


The journey is very long


The wind goes after the hands’ waving


Despair lights your eyes dreaming of stars.


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